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Facebook Apology Follows Facebook Rant in Child Custody Case

A recent court case shows how sensitive social media posts can become in divorce proceedings. This can be especially so when child custody and visitation rights are at stake.

Oakland County child custody lawyers are following an Ohio case that gained national attention this week. The case involved a husband in a divorce case who vented about his case on his Facebook page. In a post last November, Mark Byron complained about women’s tactics in custody cases.

As subsequently reported in Forbes and other media outlets, his post said that “. . . if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husbands life and take away your son’s father from him completely – all you need to do is say that you’re scared of your husband or domestic partner. . .”

Mark Byron had blocked his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elizabeth Byron, from his Facebook page, but she learned of the post anyway.

Elizabeth Byron had previously obtained a civil protective order against Mark Byron from the court for alleged threats of violence and repeated instances of verbal abuse.

After Mark Byron’s Facebook rant, Elizabeth Byron argued that Mark had violated the protective order.

The judge gave Mark Byron a choice. Mark Byron could either serve a 60-day jail sentence or make a clear apology to Elizabeth Byron on his Facebook page.

In order to avoid the jail sentence, Mark Byron posted the apology. It must remain there for 30 days, under the terms of his agreement with the court.

Free speech experts around the country expressed concerns about the precedent of a court ordering someone to post something. The apology that Mark Byron posted was written not by him, but by the judge.

Source: “Ex-husband gets choice of jail or a Facebook apology,” USA Today, 2-23-12